Greensboro Aquatic Center: More Than Just A Pool

By Alex Labonge, Swimming World College Intern

Greensboro has suddenly become a hub for swimming activity in the United States thanks to the 4-year-old Greensboro Aquatic Center.  The facility has hosted world-class meets, but the pool and its staff have had a far greater impact on the Greensboro community than ever imagined.

Many people ignorant to the swimming world question the powerful effect an aquatic facility can have on a community.  The Greensboro Aquatic Center, or GAC, originally failed its bonds voting twice before finally being passed by the voters.  The facility itself cost approximately $19 million, a hefty sum to the taxpayers of Greensboro.

The Success

The GAC, however, was destined for success before the first swimmer even entered the water.  Two major meets were already on the schedule, 2012 YMCA Short Course Nationals and the 2012 Spring Masters Nationals.  According to Greensboro’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, these two meets had a total economic impact of over $8 million on the community.

The figures that quantify the Aquatic Center’s success are staggering.  The facility has hosted 50 meets, totaling 115 days of competition in the last year alone.  Through the pool’s fourth year of operation, the facility has surpassed $100 million in economic impact for the city and has also led to the filling of 85,700 hotel rooms.  It has paid back the community five times over in its first four years of existence.

“Hosting Women’s Divison I NCAAs this past year was a real culminating event for the success that we have had,” sad Greensboro Aquatic Center manager Susan Braman.

Five American records, 6 NCAA Records, 7 meet records, and 15 pool records were set during Women’s Division I NCAAs at GAC.  All of these records can mean only one thing: this pool is fast!

Start at NCAA championships

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The GAC’s future is bright, with major meets booked for many years to come. Men’s and Women’s ACC Championships will be held in Greensboro for the next seven years as well as Division II and III NCAA Championships.

“The Aquatic Center has definitely raised the level of competition in Greensboro,” said former Swim GSA swimmer and current East Carolina University sophomore Tyler Zieg.  “Having championship meets here feels like I could be swimming anywhere, it doesn’t just feel down the road from home.”

Constant renovations are being done to keep the facility top-notch, including widening the diving platforms and increasing deck space.

Beyond Racing

While there has been great success from a meet standpoint, a lesser known, deeper success is occurring.  The facility has a community outreach program that works with second graders in Guilford County to teach them how to swim.  The program consists of 10-50 minutes lessons, with all required equipment provided to the students.  The program is unique because it is aligned with Guilford County School’s curriculum for Healthful Living Standards.  To date, the program has graduated over 1,700 students, providing them with the basic aquatic skills they need.

“Our goal is to teach every second grader in the county how to swim,” said Braman.

This past year, over 16,000 people ranging from infants to adults participated in learn-to-swim programs at the facility.

In conclusion, the Greensboro Aquatic Center has been huge for the city in more ways than one.  Other cities around the nation should study Greensboro’s success and add aquatic facilities.  While the initial cost may seem large, these centers are not burdens on the city economically and can drastically enhance the quality of life for a large portion of the population.

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6 years ago

So many wonderful memories for my 5 swimmers at this pool, from developments meets to national championships and only 45 min from my home!

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We need more of this all over the USA.

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Barbara
6 years ago

The City of Greensboro built Yankee Stadium, but killed little league. The city thinks the GAC can be all things to all people. The GAC is overcrowded. Between High School swimming and the 3-4 club teams, as well as public swimming, etc lanes are always overcrowded. That is, when the teams haven’t been kicked out because of the big meets the GAC hosts. It wouldn’t be a problem if we had other pools in Greensboro to swim at, but the city refused to fix the local high school pool that they let crumble due to lack of maintenance, . They refuse to rebuild it because they want the GAC to be painfully overcrowded to justify it’s existence. Now the only other high school pool is also on the chopping block as well. I’m happy for all that the GAC’s bringing to Greensboro, I’m just sorry to see the age group swimmers losing out.

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D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

We are proud members of Swim GSA and practice and compete at the GAC. We are there a lot! The facility is wonderful and continues renovations in order to continue moving forward – but I totally agree with you. It is just overbooked and crowded. The City need to renovate Grimsley (a centralized location for the community which could free up the GAC more) instead of spending money to tear it down and using what is left over to put Band-Aids on Smith.

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6 years ago

My son will be competing there in a few weeks.

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6 years ago

Never liked it

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6 years ago

Good pool. Horrible locker rooms.

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6 years ago

I would like to visit this some day Mary Sullivan Bond

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6 years ago

College of Charleston Swimming & Diving This is what is missing in Charlston!!!

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6 years ago

Joel Rittenhouse – come on down, C/R will be there Thursday!

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6 years ago

Stephanie Doi NEED TO MAKE IT OMG

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6 years ago

I miss those old 1990s team trips to that old outdoor 50 meter pool in Greensboro.

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6 years ago

wish we had Half of this facility here on cape cod!

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6 years ago

Eric Vess you’ll love this article.

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6 years ago

Patrice Wolfensberger

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Mark
6 years ago

The facility could have been so much more than what it is. Too many corners were cut in the construction and they’ve spent the past 4 years just trying to catch up. There’s a better pool in NC but the facility is lacking. Glad GAC is in our state.

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Robert Dean
6 years ago

Why was there no mention or statement of the Indoor Air Quality issues that existed at the opening of GAC, that were later corrected by installing the Paddock Evacuator system.

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6 years ago

Tuscaloosa, AL would benefit from this economic development